There are no tasers in golf.
Which is just another reason to appreciate the game that is such a great sport.
But its that time of the year when friends are asking me if theres any compelling reason to follow golf at its highest levels.
Since I work for GOLF CHANNEL, it would be sufficient to tell them that without coverage 12 months of the year I would be without a paycheck and health benefits.
But they know that. Some of them have been satiated by the four majors, the FedExCup, the WGC Championships, the LPGA and hundreds of individual dramas that have played themselves out on courses all over the world in 2007.
In no particular order, and for reasons good and bad, we have put headlines on the stories of Tiger Woods, Tadd Fujikawa, Michelle Wie, Morgan Pressel, Steve Stricker, Colt Knost, Oakmont, Stack and Tilt, Annikas neck, Ernies knee, High Carolinas, Boo, Carnasty, Drivers shaped like boxes, 82, 61, 19 and 13.
The list goes on.
The casual sports fan has moved on to the NFL where, perhaps, they do need tasers. So much bad news in such a short period of time. Bill Belichick, the video cheater; Michael Vick, the dog abuser; Pacman Jones, the barfly. Sadly, that list goes on, too.
Major League Baseball sweeps to its season-ending crescendo with the faint and extremely distant possibility of a Cubs-Red Sox World Series which would pit Wrigley Field vs. Fenway Park. The ratings would spike through the ceiling while the people of New England and the Midwest put away their golf clubs and glue themselves to their televisions as the cold weather advances.
Before you know it Lebron James will be driving the lane and creating more unimaginable vertical magic and Sidney Crosby will be making you forget he does what he does while wearing ice skates.
But there is a lot of golf left. Good stuff if you know where to look. The Fall Series is full of players talented enough to have big dreams. The money list has replaced the FedExCup points for now. And a bunch of grinders are out there trying to pay attention to their next shot without fixating on the 125 number. Another group of players is checking the top 30 spots on the money list every Sunday night. Their goal is to get one of those coveted invitations to next Aprils Masters.
Up until this week my favorite late season story was the ascent of Steve Stricker into the heat of the $10 million FedExCup footrace with Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson. A more unassuming professional golfer than Steve Stricker you will never meet.
Now I am enjoying the recent successes of Steve Flesch. A little more edgy on and off the golf course than Stricker, Flesch is, nevertheless, totally unaffected by the fact that hes a hot shot in the minds of so many others.
Prior to the PGA Championship Flesch won at Reno-Tahoe and ended a three-year winless drought. Then he caught fire again at Turning Stone where he took a four-shot lead into the final round of the first event of the Fall Series.
That lead shrunk to two quickly Sunday and expanded back to five by the end of his eighth hole. From there, Flesch guarded his advantage and cruised to a two-shot win over Michael Allen and a $1.08 million payday.
I remember, earlier this year, visiting with Flesch on the putting green in New Orleans. He had chalked off a line about 6 feet in length. And he was stroking putt after putt after putt. We talked, gossiped and kibitzed as he putted for close to half an hour. I wasnt keeping track but his percentage was in the high, high 90s.
At one point he looked up and said, After a while your ball actually starts to putt a groove in the grass. It gets hard to miss. Its good for your confidence.
That night Flesch took three of us GOLF CHANNELers out to dinner at Emerils restaurant. You learn in this business never to root against anybody. But it gets hard, at times, not to root FOR certain players. Stricker and Flesch are among the latter. There are plenty of others. Natalie Gulbis is that way on the womens side and its not just because of the way she looks. Shes a good person. So is Mike Weir. And Joe Durant. And, yes, that list goes on, too.
Maybe Im nave, but I just dont think there are any pit bull entrepreneurs among the card-carrying members of the PGA or LPGA tours.
There are no tasers in golf. And if you have passion for the game, theres no reason to stop paying attention to the results just because were about to arrive in October.
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